The Coast News Group

Sewer maintenance project gets Planning Commission’s OK

ENCINITAS — City planning officials approved a maintenance plan for one of the city’s largest sewer lines on Feb. 15, which includes the creation of 3.7 miles of roadway for a special maintenance truck.

The maintenance for the Olivenhain Trunk Sewer Line, a 4-mile, 21-inch sewer main with 54 manhole covers that runs from Olivenhain to a pump station near Manchester Road and Interstate 5, has been a high priority for the city in recent years.

A critical piece of infrastructure, city planning officials said there’s currently only enough access to maintain nine of the manhole covers, exposing the city to heavy state fines in the event of a sewage spill.

The city’s maintenance plan, approved by the state, calls for the entire line to be cleaned every 12 to 15 months.

Planning staff’s proposed solution included the creation of a series of paths, some 7,500 linear feet of already existing dirt roads and driveways, and 12,000 feet of other paths that would include aggregate and native soil topped with vegetation to support the weight of the cleaning truck, known as a Vac-com truck.

One resident, John Hyde, urged the city to consider a less impactful maintenance project, citing concerns that the new roads would foul wetlands where the sewer line currently runs.

“People love (the wetlands) that’s why people move there,” Hyde said. “Let’s not destroy it, let’s find ways to keep it going and not degrade the habitat value of the area.”

Commissioner Bruce Ehlers, who voted against the project, said that he believed the city had “more homework to be done” to justify the maintenance program.

The trio of commissioners who supported it added several conditions, including a request to gate and lock the access roads — with property owners and the fire department’s consent — and to eradicate nonnative plans and replace them with native plants in the area where the paths will be created.